As a result of last weekend’s efforts against Ne****tle, we have 2 of our major stars missing. Sessegnon and Cattermole got stuck in last weekend, and obviously suffered for it – but the fans surely appreciated their commitment - we have not seen that side of Sess before. I am against violence on the pitch, and both of them will miss the FA Cup quarter-final trip to Everton, but of more immediate concern is the important league game against Liverpool tomorrow.
As mentioned previously in this blog, both these talented players are hard to replace, and represent the spirit of Sunderland, but I am sure about two things – Martin O’Neill has a plan, and that the rest of the team will surely rise to the challenge of trying to squeeze out a win over Liverpool.
We have a horrible record against these particular Merseysiders, aside from a beachball or two and last season lost 2-0 at the SSOL, with Suarez starring. OK, we are in Dalglish’s eyes essentially Man. Utd., with Bardsley, O’Shea, Richardson (if he is fit), Brown and Campbell, but we urgently need to get some more points on the board after 3 games without a win.
Had we held on for 1-0 in last week's game for our first clean sheet in a Tyne-Wear derby since 1990, we would be sitting on 8th spot in the Premiership on 36 points. As it is, we are in 12th on 34 points, especially after Fulham’s 5-0 win over Wolves. We have gone 3 games without a win now and need some more points on the board.
Make no mistake, this is an important match and we need to rediscover the spirit of the win over Man. City when we took that late chance through Ji Dong-Won. I personally hope Wickham plays a part, and that we don’t give Liverpool the respect they wish to have.
Liverpool are not on a great run, and I am sure Andy Carroll will be up for it if selected, but Dalglish’s "minus £15 million signing" seems to have been found out a bit this season, blowing hot and cold. I fancy the 3 points tomorrow, with a typically modest interview from Martin O’Neill after the game giving credit to the players. 1-0 would do fine...
©Lars J.S. Knutsen